Variation in the appearance of guppy color patterns to guppies and their predators under different visual conditions

Vision Res. 1991;31(3):587-608. doi: 10.1016/0042-6989(91)90109-i.


Color patterns of natural populations of guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are a compromise between sexual selection and predation avoidance. Field data on ambient light spectra, water transmission spectra, courtship and attack distances, and cone pigments of guppies and their predators were used to calculate measures of conspicuousness of guppies under various combinations of visual conditions and vision. The results suggest that color patterns are relatively more conspicuous to guppies at the times and places of courtship and relatively less conspicuous at the times and places of maximum predator risk. Some implications to the evolution of vision, visual communication and behavior are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Light
  • Mathematics
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Poecilia / physiology*
  • Predatory Behavior
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Sex Preselection
  • Visual Perception / physiology